I’ve had one story curated so far and I’m quite certain it wasn’t a popular topic.
I’ve seen several new people say that they have one curated story.
I wonder if the Medium algorithm deliberately picks one from the first few a new writer puts out. If it then passes a human who is only looking for true junk or spam to kill, they let it fly.
That would do two things. It would give new writers some hope. Perhaps false hope, but they wouldn’t know that.
It might also set a flag in the algorithm to watch that article’s stats, responses, and highlights to see if it had any good traction. If it does get that soon, then the writer has more chance of getting to a human going forward.
Maybe they do that more than once. Maybe not.
This is exactly what I’d do if I designed it.
Update: Three more curated of mine today, one in three Topics.